Friday, December 23, 2016

masculinity and me

I'm not one for explicit displays of masculinity. Most of the time, this is admittedly because I'm usually less than successful at pulling them off. I got tattoos, yeah, but an owl playing a guitar and a bunch of Lego doesn't exactly make me look like a badass. This is, incidentally, a fairly accurate microcosm of ever attempt to "man up" I've ever made, if I'm to be honest.

I can't usually even cop the super macho attitude either, as I'm too socially maladept to adequately feign the requisite self-assurance. But damnit, I just finished polishing my cowboy boots, and if that doesn't make me feel masculine, then I don't know what will. Time now to shave with a hatchet and then wrassle a grizzly!

learning is a path

Therapy has definitely helped me to be calmer, to let go of blame, and to generally gain perspective, but I am fully aware that I still have a long way to go. Luckily, though, I have good teachers.

We were supposed to make the trek to the wilds of rural Ohio today for the in-laws holiday gathering, but illness, as it is wont to do, interceded. So we're staying home, but we did already promise my daughter she could open one of her gifts. She  tore open the paper, and inside was the Lego Friends puppy daycare set.

For the record, I was not a fan of the Friends line when it first came out. I didn't understand why girls needed a separate line of toys, and the initial line was overrun with stereotypical girlie stuff. However, they have improved dramatically. I would even say the Elves set is cooler than most anything else Lego produces.

And, as I found out when pressed into building service, they are certainly not lacking in build complexity. Parts of the set were even getting downright persnickety, and I must've been slipping into the traditional DuBose exasperation state over some absent pieces, complete with the obligatory "aargh"s.

That's when my daughter interceded. "Daddy," she said, "it doesn't have to be perfect. I'll be happy if it's just fun."

That girl. I could learn a lot from her...and in fact, I regularly do.

Sunday, December 18, 2016


I got to spend a lot of time with family.

I saw the new Star Wars film.

I had serious conversations with both my parents and my wife.

I ate Vietnamese.

I was endlessly amused and had my heart melted by my daughter.

I got to see a few of my favorite people in a town that I dearly love.

I got to play awesome board games.

I played music last Wednesday. I will play music next Wednesday.

I got a good haircut.

I sold copies of my single to people I love and respect.

Life is good. Life is awesome.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

surprising fruit

My daughter continues to amuse. She was playing while I was making coffee, when I heard, "roaring raspberries!" Then, in an explanatory tone to her Nana, "I say that when I mean, 'what the heck is going on?'"

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

chilly career opportunities

My daughter and I were talking about the weather on the way to school, and she informed me that "wintertime is like a giant refrigerator with people inside." It was hard to question her logic, admittedly. I thought about telling her about using the porch as a beer cooler at parties. However, I decided that some lessons can wait.

When I picked up my daughter from school, she got in the car and shivered. "Boy, it's cold outside." I then informed her that it would be even colder tomorrow. "Even colder?" She exclaimed. "Willowing wallabies!"

My girl. She's either going to be a meteorologist or a poet.

Thursday, December 08, 2016

depressive realism and experiments

One of the changes I've seen as I grow older is that I have an increasingly long list of "things I really shouldn't think about because doing so will only make me crazy(ier)/despair/whatever. I still love to think, but many thoughts have to get quarantined as soon as possible merely as a survival mechanism.

But is that healthy? Is it a good idea, particularly for someone with mental issues? I'll have to discuss it with my therapist, really. One thing that's already come up is how people who suffer from depression (like me) tend to view the world more accurately than the neuronormatives. The name for this is depressive realism. I'm not sure I like the concept, but the name is at least pretty cool...maybe I'll use it for an album title somewhere down the road.

Usually, these types of thoughts are personal or emotional. Lately, however, the scientific world has started to breach my "don't really think about these things" list...because the more I learn about it, the more I realize that science is sure wackier than they told me in high school. Some scientists, for instance, claim we are living in a giant simulation. It seems we may not be any more than software in some highly advanced being's computer program analyzing the nature of identity or something.

I'm actually torn on this one. On the one hand, it would explain an awful lot. However, if the vast scale of human suffering and pain is really only a data point on some galactic spreadsheet, that would inevitably mean that the experiment designer is obviously a maniacal psychopath. I dunno. I certainly feel real, but that could only mean I'm a well-designed piece of software. Maybe my own depression is really just the result of some errors in the code which escaped the debugging process. These thoughts, though, are one reason why science is increasingly on my "don't think about it list."

However, I've got to say one thing to any cosmic experimenters (if any) out there. Take a break, already. Your experimental protocols are becoming increasingly transparent and defective. Look, I can accept some pretty wild things, but a reality star for a president who's already appointed a wrestling CEO, a blindingly stupid neurosurgeon, and a fast food franchise owner to his staff? A state government which wants to allow concealed weapons on college campuses? The criminalization of constitutionally protected acts? The rampant xenophobia? Enough's enough.

Your work, Mr. Alien Experimenter, will suffer if you don't take a break and go do something fun or enriching. If you get obsessed with testing the limits of our simulated species, you're going to seriously lose it. So go outside and have fun. At least watch an episode of whatever passes for comedy television in your dimension. Listen to some rock and roll. Learn an instrument. All work and no play makes for a grumpy manipulator.

Trust me, I know. I am, after all, in the middle of grading final portfolios, so I understand the pressure.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

algorithmic fashion

While killing time in my office today, I glanced at one of my social networking sites and saw a very strange targeted ad. For whatever reason, their ad service seemed to think I would be interested in a sale on selected waistcoats.

At first, I could only think, "this is weird." I have, for the record, never worn a waistcoat in my life. I'm not usually the first person you think of when you think of waistcoats (assuming, that is, you ever think of waistcoats in the first place). So I naturally wondered how the targeted advertisement could possibly be so far off.

Of course, my brain works in weird and mysterious ways, because in less than ten minutes, I had completely rethought my position on the previously uncontemplated garment. Some time in the last year, I have started to dress more formally. I'm more likely to be found in a button-up shirt than a weird tee shirt. I've largely replaced my jeans with khakis or green cargo pants. I even bought cowboy boots for some reason.

For the record, I really don't know why I started to dress up. Maybe it has something to do with losing some weight last year. Maybe it's some coming to terms with getting older. Maybe I just needed a change. I dunno...but in light of this, maybe a waistcoat wouldn't be such a bad idea.

I brought this up to my students. My first class was relatively unimpressed by the idea, with about half shaking their heads and about another half giving me an "eh, why not?" My second class, however, seemed to think it was a capital idea. A few of them expressed such approval of the idea, I seriously considered jumping online to buy a few right then and there. My wife, though, suggested us having a dinner then shopping date, so we could test out the effect of such a fashion shift in the real world.

What's the point of all this? I dunno. Maybe I'm just much more impressionable than I suspect. The other possibility is, however, a little bit frightening...because maybe the computer-determined advertisements actually know me better than I know myself.

I never thought when the science fictional universe finally came true, it would concern itself with my style of dress.